Bedford Borough Council has extended services for people sleeping rough with the opening of an ‘Assessment & Somewhere Safe to Stay’ Hub – part of its strategy to tackle rough sleeping.
The Hub has been made possible following a successful bid by the Council to the Government, with over £450,000 awarded to deliver the Hub, alongside two ‘Navigators’ and a Local Lettings Officers to deliver bespoke and effective solutions.
This Hub will be open 24 hours a day, offering emergency homelessness advice and somewhere safe for people who are sleeping rough to stay for a short time.
In addition, professional advice will be on offer from a variety of support services to help people find the best way back into a settled home.
Mike Hyden, of the JustUs charity, said, ” This is great news for Bedford, but it needs to be part of a wider initiative to ensure more affordable accommodation is available.
“It is also essential that there is enough temporary accommodation available so the Navigators are actually able to deal lawfully with every individual and house them when they legally should.”
Bedford has seen a reduction in the number of people sleeping rough on our streets, with the most recent Annual Rough Sleeper Estimate showing a third fewer people sleeping rough from 76 in November 2017 to 51 in November 2018.
Recent figures report a further reduction with 37 people known to be sleeping on the street.
To access the Hub, people who are rough sleeping or are at imminent risk of homelessness will be referred by visiting the Housing Options Team at the Council, the SMART Prebend Centre, the Nightshelter or any of Bedford’s Rough Sleeper Outreach Services. The SMART Prebend Centre will also continue to provide a Day Centre service.
Once referred to the Hub, they will then be assigned a ‘Navigator’ and support worker who will be their continued points of contact throughout their journey into settled accommodation and independence.
The Navigator will help them with all aspects of their journey to finding a home; advising them about their rights, helping them to access support services and finding the right kind of housing.
Mayor Dave Hodgson said, “I am delighted that the Council’s successful bid for funding has brought about the opening of this Hub in our town, bringing together the Council and our partners to help people who are rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping.
“It will provide an immediate shelter for those who need it, washing and cooking facilities, and act as a ‘one stop shop’ for a number of support services.”
Cllr Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, Regulatory Services and Housing said, “The aim of the ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay’ Hub is not just to give someone a roof over their head for the night.
“This is part of our ‘rapid rehousing pathway’ to get people off the streets and into settled solutions to end their homelessness.
“We have seen some real success stories in recent months of people getting support and getting off the streets. But we are not complacent, and there are still vulnerable individuals in Bedford Borough who need support to get back on their feet.
“This new Hub is a real step forward in how we can support people sleeping rough locally; providing shelter and support, all in one place in our town centre.”